Las Vegas police deny probe into poison claims by B.B. King's daughters

A June 23, 2004 file photo shows US musician BB King performs during a concert at the bullring of Valencia. -- PHOTO: AFP
A June 23, 2004 file photo shows US musician BB King performs during a concert at the bullring of Valencia. -- PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - B.B. King's estate dismissed as "baseless" claims by the late music icon's daughters that he was poisoned, as police said they were not investigating the charges.

Coroners said they have so far found no evidence of foul play in the death of the blues legend at aged 89 earlier this month, although they are looking into the claims.

King died on May 14 in Las Vegas, where he lived while he kept up a gruelling schedule of tours that ended only last year. King suffered from Type II diabetes for the last two decades of his life.

Two of his daughters - Karen Williams and Patty King - have alleged that he was poisoned by his business manager and estate executor LaVerne Toney and his personal assistant, E! entertainment news website reported.

"I believe my father was poisoned and that he was administrated foreign substances to induce his premature death," the daughters wrote in separate but identical affidavits, E! online said.

"(I) request a formal investigation into this matter," the court documents said, according to the site.

But an attorney for King's estate, Brent Bryson, dismissed the daughters' accusations as ridiculous and defamatory on Monday, and followed up with a new statement on Tuesday.

"The allegations are baseless and unfounded and are unsupported in reality," he said, citing three independent doctors who evaluated King in the days before his death.

Doctors evaluated care

Dr Darin Brimhall, described as King's primary care physician for several years, was quoted as saying in the days before his death: "There is no action being taken to hasten the demise of Mr King."

On the contrary, "every effort is being made to make Mr King comfortable and supply him with his regular medication and nourishment."

The lawyer said: "Unfortunately even music icons die. Ms Toney did everything she could to carry out the wishes of Mr King while he was alive, and continues to carry out Mr King's wishes after his death.

"I hope over these next few days we can focus on Mr King's musical gifts to the world, and not fictional statements made by those seeking attention at the expense of Mr King," said the statement.

The Clark County Coroner's Office, which covers Las Vegas, said on Monday that it was investigating the claims along with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD).

"At this point we don't have evidence that these allegations of foul play will be substantiated," said Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg.

"However we are taking them very seriously and will be conducting a thorough investigation" in coordination with police, he added.

But an LVMPD statement on Tuesday said it was not actively probing the case.

"Until such time as the Clark County Coroner determines Mr King's death to be from other than natural causes, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is NOT moving forward with any investigation," it said.

Toney shrugged off the daughters' charge.

"They've been making allegations all along. What's new?" she said, according to E! online.